Amid vociferous protests by the Opposition on the plight of farmers due to lack of storage for record production of foodgrains,Government today admitted a mismatch between procurement and storage and said efforts were on to ease pressure on godowns by encouraging exports and providing foodgrain to MNREGA workers as part of wages.
Making a brief statement on the farmers’ plight in the Lok Sabha during Zero Hour,Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee admitted a “mismatch” as godowns lacked storage space when there had been a “record production” of rice and wheat.
He said that earlier 30-40 per cent of the total production of foodgrain used to be purchased by the government and the rest taken care of by the market.
But in the last 2-3 years,due to high minimum support price,procurement had become the primary responsibility of central and state governments and their agencies,he said.
Referring to the shortage of jute bags to store foodgrain,he said to augment their availability,the government was trying to import them,even as two lakh MT of storage capacity has been added.
While plastic bags had been banned,the government was following international norms for packaging of sugar,wheat and rice stored in biodegradable jute bags,he said.
Besides providing several tax and other concessions to create more storage capacity,exports were being encouraged and the Rural Development Ministry was working on providing foodgrain to MNREGA workers as part of their wages. State governments have to be involved in this,he said.
Mukherjee’s remarks followed a 10-minute adjournment of Lok Sabha proceedings after members of NDA,Left,RJD and SP created a furore over farmers plight,saying foodgrains were rotting and getting destroyed in rains due to lack of storage at a time of record wheat and rice output.